Theatre Students Research Immersive Theatre in NYC

new york city skyline at sunset

In preparation for the upcoming Department of Theatre production, Thus With A Kiss I Die, two Theatre students, Brianna Beeman and Sam Meade, were sent on a research trip to New York City to experience immersive theatre first-hand and participate in a variety of workshops with professional performers.

Shortly after arriving in New York, Beeman and Meade began their research by attending one of the most well-known immersive theatre performances, Sleep No More, at the McKittrick Hotel. The performance helped them understand the style of immersive theatre and the audience experience as well. Immersive theatre is theatre beyond the traditional confines of a stage, which allows actors and audience members to interact throughout a guided space.

In addition to the Sleep No More performance, Beeman and Meade attended workshops with Third Rail Projects, an immersive theatre company in Brooklyn, New York.

“We were able to work with actors from all around the globe on creating a method for working with actors in immersive theatre,” Meade said. “The two workshops were amazing because we came out of them with a strong idea of how to work with actors back at MSU.”

The workshops taught them about the engagement between audience and performers in immersive theatre, which they learned through discussion and experimentation with stylized movement. They also had to opportunity to ask questions.

Photo of the theatre workshop at Third Rail Projects
Photo captured during the Third Rail Projects workshop. Photo courtesy of Third Rail Projects. 

“I felt a greater understanding of how to aide actor preparation in the immersive theatre devising process,” Beeman said. “I also have more extensive knowledge of how to craft a story that will be told in an unusual style for most audiences.”

During the trip, Beeman and Meade also explored the city on their own, attended some Broadway shows, and visited the Museum of Modern Art.

The trip was made possible by Professor of Theatre Rob Roznowski’s Lilly Fellowship, created specifically for the theatre to take the innovative step into immersive theatre trends. Both Beeman and Meade brought back valuable information to MSU’s Department of Theatre from their experiences in New York.

“I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity,” said Beeman, crediting the fellowship for allowing her to make the trip. “Being able to meet professional artists in New York City and attending the workshops has furthered my education and enhanced my knowledge, which will benefit me in my future profession.”

The Lily Fellowship also is supporting the Department of Theatre’s upcoming performance of Thus With A Kiss I Die, which is the department’s first endeavor into immersive theatre. The play, written and directed by Roznowski, follows the days and hours leading up to a performance of Romeo and Juliet at a small southern university in 1958 where a progressive director has cast a black Romeo and a white Juliet. Audience members will be invited to move throughout the MSU Auditorium to catch different parts of the play that will be performed by student actors.

Thus With A Kiss I Die opens Friday, February 16, and runs through Sunday, February 25. For more information, including show times and ticket information, visit the Department of Theatre website.